The second and third grade students of St. Jerome Regional School have received messages from all over the world without leaving the confines of their Tamaqua classrooms.

As part of a geography lesson, students have asked their families and friends to send them postcards when traveling during this school year.

"The purpose of the postcard project was to find a creative way for children to learn the names and locations of the states as well as foreign countries," said Lisa Lindenmith, third grade teacher, who coordinated the project with second grade teacher Debra Early.

Lindenmuth noted that at this level, students are still learning the differences between a state and a country, and collecting postcards was a way to stimulate discussion, as well as to develop an appreciation of the many different cultures and languages around the world.

The project began in September. after Labor Day, when a letter was sent home with the students asking their parents and families to send postcards to the school when traveling.

"We wanted to collect one card from each of the 50 states and as many foreign countries as we could," said Lindenmuth.

The response to the project has exceeded well beyond anyone's expectations.

As of this week, the school has received a total of 338 postcards from all over the United States and the world.

"This has been just amazing," remarked Lindenmuth. "We didn't expect this many. We've gotten cards from as far away as New Zealand, Israel, Ireland, England, Austria, Germany, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, Korea, Malaysia and China."

The school has received cards from 49 of the 50 states. "The only one we are missing is Iowa," noted Lindenmuth. "We're still waiting for cards from Africa and Australia, and I've seen on-line that you can even get a postcard from Antarctica."

Lindenmuth explained that one thing that has helped the project is that parents have gone on the Internet and contacted friends to notify them that the school was seeking the cards.

The cards are now on display in the classrooms, as well as on the walls of the school's hallway.

"We kept track of the postcards by finding the state or country and marking it on the map," said Lindenmuth."We discussed such things as state nicknames, regions, attractions, sizes of the states and countries and the languages spoken."

"The postcard project is a great activity for our students, and I think the friends and relatives who sent postcards enjoyed it, too," said St. Jerome Principal Mary Ann Mansell. "The students looked forward to the mail delivery every day. Those sending the postcards gave first hand descriptions of the cities, states and even foreign countries that they visited.

"It was a great geography lesson that encompassed both physical location and cultural exchanges of information," added Mansell.

The students had their own personal favorite cards.

"I think it's cool learning where the states are," said Nadiya Sieger. "I learned Indiana has a cardinal for the state bird and their flower is a peony."

"My favorite postcard was from my mom and dad," said Nichole Gunderson. "Their's was from Kansas, and I learned that the sunflower is the state flower, and that they make chocolate-covered sunflower seeds. My mom and dad said it is a beautiful place."

"I learned and liked the information about the state capitals, famous buildings, the Great Lakes and the four oceans," said Michael Minchhoff. "I also learned about different cities and towns. I think it's pretty neat to have 49 states out of the 50."

"My favorite postcard was from Peru, because that's where my dad went for a business trip," said Maria Cerimele.

Lindenmuth said the school will continue with the project for awhile. "We'll keep it going and see what happens," she stated.

Perhaps the elusive card from Iowa will eventually make its way to 250 West Broad Street in Tamaqua.